Top o' the mornin', my guerillas! I've gotten a lot of interest in the community garden project, so I thought I'd share with you a little of the behind-the-scenes work.
As I mentioned before, we're undertaking this project in a non-guerilla fashion. I'm doing this for a couple of reasons, one of which is that I hate when plants die. It would break my gardening heart to lovingly put flowers and shrubs into the ground, only to have them ripped up by a disgruntled property owner. But more importantly, I'm seeking permission for the sake of the residents. This particular neighborhood boasts an aging population, so I want to keep the drama to a minimum. Though the property has been a thorn in their side for years and while the DCGG is willing to go to the mattresses for the sake of green space, I don't want to embroil the residents in a messy battle. They've already been battling for 5+ years. We'll save that fighting-the-system card for a frisky neighborhood full of litigious environmentalists.
And now! That peek behind-the-scenes. This is the letter I sent (several times... grr!) to the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs and the D.C. Department of Vacant Properties, neither of which have responded to me. Nertz.
Dear D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs and D.C. Department of Vacant Properties,
I am writing on behalf of the Deanwood residents of
The lot at [ADDRESS] (SSL XXXX XXXX) has been an ongoing problem for the surrounding property owners. Since its sale to the current owner, the lot has fallen into a state of severe disuse that has lowered property values and threatened the safety of the Deanwood residents; debris and overgrowth have made the lot a site for illicit and transient activity, and a breeding ground for vermin.
Deanwood residents have contacted you about the lot 20 times over the past six years. Inspections of the property have been made, and reports of its maculate condition noted.
We have identified the property’s owner via the Property Information Verification System (PIVS) and have tried to contact them about the property. The owner is [OWNER]
To further complicate matters, a search into the tax history of the property shows that an Expired Tax Sale occurred in 2008, at which time the homeowner’s debt was purchased by the District. Please note that this sale occurred AFTER the
2009 and 2010’s taxes are both outstanding.
The neglect of [ADDRESS] represents more than the 2,000+ square feet of the lot itself. The condition of this property is an eyesore and a blight to the neighborhood. It is threatening the safety and security of the surrounding residents, and decreasing the value of their homes. (The value of the property itself has dropped since its sale to [OWNER]
This is unacceptable.
But the situation can be easily fixed.
Without permission, we will have to design the lot in such a way that our work can be moved if we are forced to leave. In the latter case, trees are not an option. Neither are the more elaborate design features.
Transforming [ADDRESS] into a garden will decrease transient activity in the area, and will positively impact the Deanwood community by giving them something to enjoy and care for. (Studies have shown that community gardens decrease crime rates and increase property values.) Maintenance of the garden will be undertaken by the
By way of this email, I am requesting the following:
- Confirmation of the land’s current ownership, looking closely at D.C.'s 2008 Expired Tax Sale and its significance on ownership;
- Your acknowledgement that the lot at [ADDRESS] is problematic; and
- Permission to create a community garden on the property.
Thank you for taking this request into consideration, and for looking into the standing of [ADDRESS] NE. I sincerely hope that the D.C. Guerilla Gardeners, the residents of [STREET]
D.C. Guerilla Gardeners